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Chuck 6, Washington 6, Pennsylvania 4, Victoria 3, Julie 3, Venus 3, Alice 3, Helsinki 3, Vietnam 3, China 3, Safeway 2, Dr. Kissinger 2, Richard Nixon 2, Mrs. Taft 2, Missouri 2, Berlin 2, Virginia 2, New York 2, Lynda 1, Let Me Tell You 1,
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  CSPAN    Politics Public Policy Today    News/Business.  

    November 24, 2012
    6:00 - 7:00am EST  

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>> the question that i think probably everyone secretly asks themselves when they meet you is what is it like to grow up in the white house? a kid's perspective on a day-to- day living standpoint. >> first thing is it became my room. i wanted to know who else had been in my room. [laughter] so i asked the curator. he said, well, i can't think of anybody famous. [laughter] and so, then, i asked president eisenhower. who slept in this room when you were here? he said i think queen elisabeth lady in waiting was there. [laughter]
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then i found out more. i found out that mrs. truman's mother. [laughter] it was very interesting. they had a heater in the closet. so your clothes were kept nice and toasty. this was because mrs. wallace was an older woman. anyway, whatever. [laughter] so i kept studying. i just knew there was somebody famous i could share this room with. it had been caroline's room. lucy moved in to what was john's room. i had thought i was going to get this room with wonderful antique furniture. my mother moved our old furniture in. [laughter] that is the negative. the positive is now i have a piece of furniture that was and
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the white house. [laughter] i just wish it was a better quality. [laughter] not worth refinishing the desk. anyway, subsequently, i found out that after little willie died, they locked up his room to forever go into the room. what room was that? the curator said that was your room, ms. lynda. they said after abraham lincoln was assassinated, they brought his body back to the white house -- [laughter] -- and they took his body down and they described exactly where and they did an autopsy. [laughter] yes, it was my room.
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[laughter] i am always trying to raise money for literacy. a few years ago, a friend of mine was doing a book on the white house. i told this story in this children's book and i am thinking, my goodness gracious, i hope these children do not think it is too macabre. it was my room. i went down to the national gallery and i got a picture of two wonderful children, hung it over the mantelpiece, and decided it must have been john quincy adams children. i just made it up. [laughter] living in the white house for me, i was in college. i was there for a little while. then i went back to the university of texas.
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then, i went to work and i was in new york. i kept my room. then, i got married to chuck who is somewhere in this audience. [applause] wherever he is. there he is, over there. so, they are supposed to be clapping. [laughter] so, anyway, we got married in december, and chuck left in march. i was typical marine way. i was pregnant. [laughter] so, we had been married almost four months. so, he left to go to vietnam so i moved back in with mother and daddy.
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also in this audience is my white house baby. lucinda. she spent her first two months living in the white house. three months, i guess. ok. so, i have pictures of her in her baby basket and all that in the white house. lucinda in the east room, lucinda in the lincoln bedroom. [laughter] that was very exciting. you always did feel that you were surrounded by history and that the memories of all the other people who had lived there or surrounding new and that you had something to live up to. i think the hardest thing is what mother said about don't do
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anything you ever want to see on the front page of "the new york times." because you do not want to embarrass your family or do anything that would bring aggravation to them. i would go somewhere and somebody my age would say my mother did not want me to do this but when i had read that you had done it -- [laughter] nobody wants to be an example. i don't care whether who it is. nobody wants to have to live up to an image that is not real. i think that was the most difficult part. for instance, i got to meet carl sandburg. i was taking an english literature class. i got him to sign my english text book. [laughter] i have said enough.
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>> did you get an 'a'? >> as a matter of fact, i did. i was a very studious type. i was boring. except for a little short time at the end when i was not boring. i did not get mentioned a whole lot of times about the partying i was doing. >> we will get to that. [laughter] susan, when you were in the white house, it is the mid 70's. you are in high school. that is a pretty unique vantage point on that era. your youthful rebellion -- how did it manifest itself at the white house? >> unlike lynda, she lived on the second floor with her parents across the hall. i had the third floor to myself.
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i actually took julie's and david's room. we can all tell each other who lived in the room before the other person did. we did not move in like the johnsons. my dad commuted from alexandria, virginia. when the move again, it had turquoise blue shag carpeting. the only way to make an outgoing phone call was you pick up the phone and the white house operators who of the most wonderful people in the whole world, but because i was a senior in high school, they decided i would have to pick up the phone and say would you please call so and so and i
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would give them the number and they would dial it. one of the things is they put in a private line so all my phone calls could come and go. i did not have an answering machine but my friends could call my room directly. they do make a lot of concessions for you. when i had this grandiose idea that i was going to redecorate my bedroom, then you are informed that comes out of your personal pocket. the federal government does not redecorate your room for you. that is not one of the benefits. my mother shot that down pretty quickly. [laughter] >> you try to put a poster up -- if you try to put a poster up, is that frowned upon? >> i always wanted a brass bed from the time when i was a child.
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the curator said is there a brass bed in storage. the white house has these huge storage units of furniture. is there one that you can bring from storage and put it in susan room so she could have a brass bed? but it is not of the era of the house. [laughter] ok. eventually, clem found a brass bed in missouri that was of the era of the house. that was exquisite. i mean, it had a half canopy and it was the most beautiful thing and the whole wide world. the family loaned it to us. then jack carter and his wife wanted to keep the bed because they realized how beautiful it
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was. the family in missouri said, no, we all republicans and we are taking it back. [laughter] there are all kinds of things that go on that you will never hear about these stories. >> that is a perfect segue. we are going sequentially. escaped from the white house. you both have very good stories. this has to be high on the list of any teen fantasy. lynda, what is your story? >> this is a problem because you read too much, my mother would say. i read a story about the wilson girls. i read in a book that they wanted to know what people
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really thought about them. i did not want to know what people really thought about me. they described how they put on some different clothes and went down onto the first floor and walked through the house. you have to understand, in our day, anybody who wanted to go see the white house could just get in line in the morning. not mondays because they claimed on monday's. tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, and saturday, the white house was open and you could just walk in. we were presumably not supposed to go down the stairs from 9:00 until 12:00. but i decided if i could see if i could get away with it. i just wanted to see if i could do it.
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because we had secret service all the time. if you left the second floor or the third floor, if you left the family quarters and or if you went out of the house, the secret service went with you. you could make a have been out of hell or hell out of heaven. i just decided i would accept the secret service and said i will not telling you if you do not tell on me. i put on my babushka and covered up my head and walked down the back stairs and blended in with the crowd going through the white house. i joined a tour. it was not a tour because it was really just people walking through. you got that if you got the congressional tour. this was just the general
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public. so, i went down. they eventually push you out the front door. you go out on pennsylvania avenue. mind you, my bedroom was right above -- imagine the front of the white house, pennsylvania avenue. they have these big lanterns there. that is where our rooms were. people would come through 7:00 in the morning on these congressional tours making a lot of noise when i was trying to sleep. i imagined my last day i was going to fill up a balloon with water and drop it. [laughter]
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in the end, i was much more mature then so i did not do it. i decided i would go out. i walked out pennsylvania avenue and cut to the gate. there i was. they walked me out. uh-oh. some secret service agent is going to get in trouble. i told the gate, "i'm lynda johnson." would you tell my secret service agent i have escaped? [laughter] they came out and found me and brought me home. [laughter] i really was not in fear for my life. but we did get a lot of threatening mail, a lot of crazy people writing. i don't know if it was changed with susan, but for me, and the
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letter that came to us that would be opened and read. i did have a few friends i wanted to hear from without having the letter expurgated. so i decided -- this was my code. they would put "special" on it. the secret service knew not to open it. that was my secret code. i escaped once. after that, i did not want to get the people in trouble. but we had a lot of fun together. >> mine was a lot different from lynda's.
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it was a contest with a secret service agent of who could out- do who. he challenged me. i had three older brothers. i am used to being around men. it doesn't faze me. as my husband and my stepson who i can still pinned to the floor. [laughter] anyway, he said come back in 24 hours and we will have this challenge. i came back in 24 hours and we had the challenge. it was somewhat of an insult. i was on the west wing side of the house in my car sitting out front. you had to leave your keys in the car because if they had to move your car, they always needed to have access to your car. i was insulted and i went running up the back stairs. my car is sitting out there. the keys are in it.
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my agents are downstairs and all realized i have made this maneuver. i get in my car. they had opened the gate because my mother was coming in for an event and they could not close them fast enough to stop me from leaving. [laughter] i get in my car and drive out. oh no. now what do i do? [laughter] what do you do? at that time, i was going to mount vernon college just down the street. one of my roommates was in class so i drove over there to school. i am standing outside her classroom door and i am waving
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at her to come outside. she says where is everybody? i say, i have ditched them. she says water we going to do? i said i don't know. we went down to the safeway parking lot. lynda knows exactly which. >> a super safeway. >> we bought a six-pack of beer because the drinking age in washington was 18 at the time. we sat in the parking lot and drank a six-pack of beer. this was being bad. [laughter] the problem was, we had tickets to go to a concert that night. guess who had the ticket? the secret service agents. [laughter] i picked up the phone and i called the command post and i said i would be back by 7:00. i mean, this is a being bad.
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well, the problem was we had tickets to go to a hall and oates concert that night and guess who get the tickets, the secret service agent. i picked up the phone and of course you had to use a pay phone in those days. i called the command post and said this is susan and i will be back by 7:00 -- [laughter] kim is with me, so i am not alone. i walked back into the command post that afternoon and, i was kind of joking because i realized -- how do i get myself out of this situation now? i said, what time do we need to leave for the concert -- i decided, let's skip over this part and get to it. they said, your father would like to see you. [laughter] so i was like, ooh, this is not good. this is not going well. i said ok. so we went to constitution hall first. i dropped my roommates off. i was living in a town house in arlington at the time. constitutional is down the street from the white house. we go back and my parents were
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having dinner. i walked in and dad says, you know, [mumbles] -- i said, yeah. my mother goes, what are you all talking about? so no one had told her what had happened, that i had disappeared for about three hours that afternoon. dad just said, you know, that is not appropriate and no one is going to get in trouble, but please do not do that again. >> did you go to the concert? >> i went to the concert and when they played "she's gone," it had unbelievable meaning to me. [laughter] >> let me just say, lucy, my little sister, she was in high school at that time. and she had a big birthday. she asked daddy, she said what i want for my birthday is a day away from the secret service. and daddy said, i cannot give that to you. because actually, by law, by law, the secret service have to protect the president, first lady, and the family.
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and in our day -- daddy was vice president, and that is when they changed the law. imagine what it would have been like if they had not changed the law. at that time, it was just the president. and the law was changed to include the vice president. imagine what it would have been like in dallas. but lucy did not get her day free from the secret service. >> she could get almost anything but not that. you had many unique experiences. i believe the only prom held in the white house and one of the very few weddings. >> it was very exciting. as a matter of fact, the previous big wedding was alice longworth. princess alice, they called her.
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in our day, she was the cat's meow in washington. she said -- she had a pillow that said "if you do not have anything nice to say to anybody, come and sit next to me." [laughter] she was wonderful to listen to as long as she wasn't saying anything bad about you. but she came to our wedding. i mean, she was fascinating. imagine, teddy roosevelt's daughter -- you talk about a rebel. susan and i were just pussycats. are father said i can either be president or i can take care of alice. [laughter] her father said you may not smoke under my roof, so she smoked of the roof. [laughter] she had a little green snake
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which was called emily spinach which she put on her shoulder. mind you, you're talking about 1910 -- that time. she was really something. of course, i thought she was a great role model. [laughter] >> well, and i got a note from her when we moved into the white house and the note said, "have a hell of a good time." i did my darndest. when we did the ladies journal article, she was still alive. >> you worked on an article together. >> i wrote it in she photographed it. we had more fun. it was august 1976, i think. it was about the presidential children. it was amazing the number of those that were still alive. nobody ever heard of them.
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for instance, in 1976, grover cleveland's daughter, who was the only child ever born -- the only presidential child born in the white house, was still alive. we went to see her. >> wow. >> just to show you how important we are, she told us the story about how she came back several years later to the white house to show her husband the white house and she went up to the gate and asked, explained, and said i was born here. and the guard said, oh, we hear that story all the time. [laughter] she did not get the tour. but alice roosevelt longworth,
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we got to be big buddies. alice's granddaughter wanted to see the white house one day, so i was giving the granddaughter a tour. there was the most beautiful portrait of mrs. taft. and we all know the president taft was our largest -- i mean, heaviest, president, 350 pounds. he could not get a regular bathtub. so i thought it was so interesting, this beautiful portrait of mrs. taft over here, and, look, she has this hourglass figure, and her husband was the heaviest president. alice said, she never looked like that. she had her head painted on somebody else's body. [laughter]
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well, let me tell you, susan and i went to see helen taft manning, her daughter. and she had been president of -- i have forgotten, one of the seven sister schools. and there she had a portrait, a photograph of her mother and father on their 25th wedding anniversary in the white house. and, you know what, she did not look like that. [laughter] she, you know, just had those nice kind of sagging bosoms, and -- a lovely lady, but she did not look like that lady in the portrait. [laughter] and ever since then, i have been wanting to get the same person to do me. [laughter]
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but coming in know, really, this is full circle, because i am sure all of you studying -- as you can guess, i was a history major and it just fascinates me. but in the old days, that is what portrait artists would do. they would take bodies around and would come -- literally, from here to here, so you could always get the prettiest dress. you know, you just picked out the dress and which way you wanted to be looking and so forth, and they would just put your head on it. >> that is one way to do it. they will do that again with photoshop. it just takes less time. i want to get a little more to the prom. that seems like the ultimate teenage fantasy, prom at the white house. >> first of all, to have your prom at the white house is absolutely amazing. and i did not come up with the
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idea. the prom committee came up with the idea. [laughter] and they came to me and they said, is this possible, and i said, well, i do not know. so i went to the ushers office, which as lynda knows, at the office was kind of the concierge is when the family, staff, the west wing, and the east wing, that sort of thing. they said, well, i guess it is the same idea of as long as you pay for the beverages and the food and the staff that are going to serve under the other stuff, which is what our class did -- it is as if you rent a hotel and paid for the hotel services. it just happened to be at the white house. >> but you did not have to pay to rent the room. >> that is true. of course, every parent wanted to come and be the chaperone. [laughter] >> the only time that has ever
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happened in history, by the way. >> so what we did is we pick teachers that we wanted to be our chaperones and everybody in the class, i went to an all girls' school in bethesda, maryland, and in a class of 74 girls. everybody came and everett brought a date, which is probably a first for most proms. we had a really good time. but i was telling john, i said, we tried to get the beach boys to be the band. they were the top thing right then. and they wanted to charge us to play the white house. small girls cannot afford to pay for the beach boys, so we ended up getting two local bands to play. >> do you remember their names? >> have no clue, no clue. >> we are going to get to questions in just a little bit. but one of the, i imagine, particularly surreal aspect of
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living in the white house is that distance between outside and inside, particularly in your father's presidency, in his second term with the protests. your husband is serving overseas. your father is agonizing over the war. and those protesters saying pretty vicious things. what was it like to hear that on the other side of the wall? >> it was horrible, just horrible. hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today? very painful. and i knew how agonized my father was, and he was doing everything he could to try to get peace. and he would stop -- we would have bombing halls, and we would try to get people to the peace table. anyway, it was a very, very, very difficult and painful. but that recognized that one of the freedoms of this country is is that they had the right to
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do that, and that is one of the -- as much as he hated it personally, he had to respect them for caring that much. now, we all know that certain portion of the people were not committed, that it was a big party, because that is the way it is that every protest. i mean, every kind of thing, there are always some the just hang on to be in the know. but it was very, very painful. so we were getting, you know, having protests from southerners who were unhappy about the civil rights. we had people who were unhappy about the war. i told chuck, i said, you to the easy way out. [laughter] you went to vietnam in 1968. when you think, all of you -- just think what happened in 1968, if you are born and then, it was a year from hell.
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i mean, we had the north koreans captured one of our ships. we had washington burning. you know, it was just awful. but lucinda robb was born. so that was something good about the year. >> susan, on a different scale, your father has been vindicated by history for pardoning richard nixon, but at the time there was a lot of popular blowback. overnight, his approval ratings fell from i think the 70% to below 50% certainly. what was your perspective from that time about -- did you encounter people who would mention their displeasure at that point to you?
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>> i did. even though i was on the third floor, my room was on the same side of the white house as hers was, and i heard the demonstrators, too. you cannot believe how thick the windows are at the white house but you can still hear the demonstrators from 1600 pennsylvania avenue which is the north side of the white house. his demonstrators were more about the pardon and that sort of thing. the people would come up to you. here is another example. two women try to assassinate my father, and here was my mother tried to get the equal rights commission passed. my mother was going, i do not understand why women are trying to kill you when i am tried to change things for women. that was always one of the big questions. but people were, it to me, i found, rude. i mean, what is the point of
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coming up to a child of a president and spouting off in a direction like that. we, as children, did not really ask to be there, and we cannot really change the policy. the person you need to go to is your senator or congressman or write to the president or vice president himself. it is interesting to watch the american public's reaction to you as a family member, as somebody who has lived in the white house. it is very interesting to be on the other side of it. >> lynda, legacy question. we will get to questions in just a second. it is clear, i think, the controversy over vietnam -- the father's legacy on civil rights will only grow with time. health care though is a specific part of your father's legacy that we are now debating in a real time. what are your thoughts about the debate we're having given your father's accomplishments in that area? >> well, there were a lot of people, democrats and republicans, who worked to get medicare through, and that was the time or the country, even if you disagree with somebody, you wanted government to work. right now, we have --
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[applause] i know. we have, and it is both democrats and republicans, independents, everybody, there is this feeling of "gotcha." i know something and i am going to do this and it will hurt you. rather than talking about issues and rather than saying, ok, you want this and i want that, can we not find a middle ground? can we not find a way to agree on things and do what we agree on? and we live in a glory time, and we certainly did not -- the attacking that goes on now, the attacking of the families -- that was pretty much generic. it is not very nice now. and i am glad my husband is out of politics. i would not want to be in there now. i do not envy -- one of the things that susan and i have found, and i have found this with julie and the other
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presidential children -- i think that we have been there. we know what it is like. to some extent, i think we try to protect each other. we sympathize. at least i have tried not to give advice to other people and less i am asked, because we know how tough it is. and i hope that my father's legacy of health care, of headstart, of elementary and secondary education -- do you realize that before that, if you were handicapped, your parents had to educate you. i mean, if you're blind, tough. that was your problem. now with that law, we have given federal aid to people who were handicapped so they could go to school.
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we felt an obligation as a country to try to raise everybody up, regardless of your color, regardless of how much money you made. and, yes, we are very ambitious, and we knew that not everything that we did in those days are going to last forever and that they would be tinkered with, but that is the way it is in this country. we pass laws and we modify them and we changed them and we adapt to the times. but we tried. and daddy was a teacher by heart. he would be so proud that our youngest daughter is a high school math teacher. you never make any money, but you influence a lot of lives. fortunately, we can afford to
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underwrite our child. but if you want the best teachers, you have got to pay them better. [applause] and so, i am hoping that history will remind people of some of the good things that we did do and and that whatever he did, he tried. do not question people's motives. you might disagree with somebody and what they did. you might say that they made a mistake here and should have done this. but i try not to question their motives. they did this because they wanted to -- they were getting paid or some big contributor influenced them or something like that. i think our people that we elect our better than that. there are always going to be some people who let you down, but we all -- now to tell you how important we are, my
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daughter lucinda told me about a conversation that -- she met a mother of wonderful children and the person said, well, tell me, what are you doing here? lucinda said, well, my mother is speaking. she and susan for are going to be speaking tomorrow. oh, oh? well, they're going to be speaking about life in at the white house. hmm-mmm. lucinda then proceeded to say, oh, my grandfather was president lyndon johnson. and the person said, well, what did he do? [laughter] now, what does it teaches you is that susan and i are not as famous as we think we are. [laughter] >> susan, your father's legacy,
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people forget about how close he was to being elected in his own right and vindicated on and so many friends. but what are the specifics that you think history has not yet given him enough credit for, ways in which his influence is echoed? it might be things like helsinki. it might be legislation. it might be examples. >> talk about your mother. [laughter] >> it could just be the iconic betty ford. >> mother, it is you, i promise. that is what he is known for. i think the helsinki accord is one of those that kind of gets lost in the shuffle. and the berlin wall -- a lot of people do not credit the beginning of the berlin wall coming down, really going all the way back to the helsinki accord.
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so that is one of them. i think he gets -- he got criticized a lot for the pardon of richard nixon, but the kennedy family gave him the profiles of courage award before his death, which was an unbelievable honor to him. and that meant so much to him. he knew that he was doing the right thing for the american public and it was not something -- [applause] at the time, you know, woodward and bernstein criticized him up one wall and down the other, but he knew in the long run that it really was the right thing to do and for our nation to appeal, it had to happen. the fact that if we were going to take a president and go through the whole process and
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court and everything else, our country never would be where we are today. so that was one of them. then i would have to say really the things that my mother did, because they were a team. as far as a breast cancer in bringing breast cancer out of the closet and doing so much for women. [applause] and women's health issues, because it was not just breast cancer, but after they left the white house, where she did for drug and alcohol addiction. [applause] so those are the things that stand out in my mind. the bicentennial -- i mean, i had not thought about the bicentennial. when lynda said 1976, i thought, that was the bicentennial. the year of the bicentennial was an unbelievable experience. and to be a member of the first family then and to see the celebration that america
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experienced was unbelievable. the gifts and the quilts and the ceremonies, the tall ships, it was just amazing, and may be very proud to be pan-american. >> very good. we're going to take some of your questions. that was absolutely wonderful. let's continue with questions. >> while you get your questions to the ushers so they can get them up here to me, lynda, you had a mother, too. would you like to tell us about lady bird? >> well, mother said she was elected by one person. [laughter] and she tried to help him. and she was -- he knew that she was always telling the truth. she did not want anything from him, and she was his great
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guide. he would tell me over and over again, i want you to be like your mother. he thought she was just about the most perfect woman he had ever met, and maybe only to his mother. [laughter] but, anyway, she worked with headstart. recognized what teddy roosevelt said is the bully pulpit. no, she is in a place of a lot of attention and you might as well use it for sending you care about. she worked very hard, particularly on head start and on the environment. she was, next to johnny appleseed, she was right behind him. [laughter] [applause] this is her 100th birthday year and for her 70th birthday, she
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gave money to start the national wildflower research center. so that if you want to know about the wild flowers and the native plants in your area, you can now go on the internet. in those days, it was writing us or calling us, and we can tell you what will be best for oregon, what are the things that are native to oklahoma and that will grow the best heat they have their and the lack of water. what will do best in vermont, virginia. let's encourage our natural environment because, one, it is a lot cheaper. and she was a penny pincher. [laughter] frugal is the nice word. but she wanted us to live up to the best that god gave us, and she believed that having those native plants on the highways
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would remind us of the beauty that god gave us. and it was a lot cheaper not to be planting roses out there or something that was not going to come up next year. so when you see those little signs about, forgive us for not mowing but we're waiting for the seeds to go in the ground, it is said the money. and it is wonderful. we now have a wonderful wildflower center that has been named after her. she finally led us to do it. she did not want it named after her. but the lady byrd wildflower center in austin. we're doing everything to raise money for it and we're going to do a children's garden so we can start with the little children, teaching them about why they should do it. we recycle all of our water. for 30 years, we have been
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being environmentalists, before we knew what it was. and i am very, very proud of all of the legacy of mother. what you have to realize is she had many, many years of productivity after daddy died. besides taking care of the lbj library, the lbj school, and all of his legacies, which she has now left on our shoulders -- lucy and i really miss her -- we're trying to carry on that tradition that she was such a trailblazer in. [applause] >> question to both of you. how did the president's children reach out to one another if they are children of the president's club? [laughter] >> you know, that is one of those things that lynda and i
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were talking about earlier. unless somebody picks up the phone and asks you for advice, we both kind of keep our mouths shut. we have become friends over the years. plus, our parents or friends, the relationship goes way back. just like we were all in the same era of growing up. lynda has hosted several of us at her home, because there are many things we can learn from each other. how to deal with foundations and libraries and museums and the park service, and how does that and work with those organizations and still keep it your own and continue those legacies? so those are probably the more difficult things to do.
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the easier things are to sit around and talk about which route did you have and who was your chef and what was your favorite meal, and who was your favorite head of state or entertainment while you were there? there were good sides to it and bad sides to wit. >> well, i would say mostly good sides. i would love to say that i was a bosom buddy of everybody, all of the former first children. but, you know, not everybody is -- they reach that time they want to do it. but, let me tell you, you come to the lbj library in november and we're going to have a panel on first children. i think we have at least three bush's. i said, that is a lot of bush's. and they said, yes, but they have two presidents. one of susan's brothers is coming. hopefully we will have a lot more stories coming. but there are things that -- you know, if i told you about the burdens, this, that, and
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the other, you might say, well, my goodness gracious, all of the wonderful things she has, why is he complaining? so we know that a lot of these stories that we're not going to read in the paper tomorrow. you know, it is a friendship or you can tell about things that happened, good, bad, and otherwise, and know that they are sharing. after watergate, for instance, chuck and i used to play bridge with julie and david. i am sure they felt nervous about who they could trust, who would come over, and who was going to go out and given a little gossip to somebody. but they knew we would not have any -- why would we want to do anything like that? so we used to play bridge with them. you would say that it is mutual, both affection and also supports society.
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chuck and i were so honored to be invited to both president ford's funeral and to betty ford's funeral in california. to some extent, we are just a big family. >> either of your reached out to the obama girls or could you speculate what it is like at their age to be first children? >> well, the answer is no, because i am not been asked. but the second thing i would say is i think there are goods and bads. one, they do not have to worry about dating. >> yet. >> yeah, but even so, they're still pretty young. susan was in her prime. >> i was. [laughter] >> i was also -- late bloomer, but i was still in there. so, to some extent, i think some of the young men that i
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would need would want to go out with the secret service and have nothing to do with me. but the negative part is you would go out with somebody and the next day there would be something in the paper, and the poor fellow just wanted to the movies. you know, he was not proposing. and i am sure it probably hurt him with the other girls he was running around with. but we had the advantage of age and hopefully some judgment. now, the other side for the obama children is that they are young and they're very protected by their family. so they're not quite out front. i hope that they are making lots and lots of friends at the schools that they're going to, and they seem to be doing it. everything i read -- that is the only thing i know. i do see -- not because of the
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presidency connection but because of the senate connection, once a year senate spouses have a lunch for the first lady. so i have an opportunity -- i have had an opportunity to see, i guess, all of the first ladys since we left washington, because of the senate, and to have lunch with them. but i just wished them well and i hope that they enjoy it and i hope they learn and take every advantage of the opportunity. because you can meet so many interesting people and you can learn so much living there. and i tried to take advantage of it. >> to follow up, i had the advantage of traveling to china with my parents when i was a freshman in college. chairman maou was the chairman
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of china then. that is how long ago it was. and i got to meet him. my dad used to tell the story of, you know, we were walking through the receiving line, and you did not know when you are going to meet the chairman. it was one of those things that, all of the sudden there would come up to you is that we need to get in the car right now. they did not tell you where you're going. dr. kissinger was with us. dr. kissinger would say, ok, we're obviously going to the palace and we're going to meet the chairman at the time. so my father shook his hand and my mother shook his hand and then i shook his hand. the picture i have is his eyes lit up. he was very elderly at the time and his health was not good, but he was known to like women. [laughter] so this picture i have of him is his eyes light up like a man has arisen from the dead.
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[laughter] and the smile on his face, that he is so glad to see this tall blond woman in china. when you say you get to meet some amazing people, those are the amazing people you get to meet. >> wow. >> did you have secret service code names? >> yes, mine was panda. mother was penifor. my family was p's. one brother was professor. i cannot remember the others. >> we were l's. perfect -- daddy was leader -- no, we were v's. v's is what we were. i was venus -- [laughter] no, no, i was just teasing. i was not venus. venus is what i wanted to be.
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lucy was venus. mother was victoria. she thought victoria was kind of stuffy. but later on, when i grew up and got married, we had a costume party, come as your favorite lovers. mother came as of victoria with a big medallion of her poor dead albert. she looked great. she was wonderful as victoria. chuck was not anything. lucinda was -- i was the velvet. so lucinda was velveteen. [laughter] very wonderful, but we loved it.
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i loved my secret service agents and kept up with all of them. one of them recently stepped down as -- he was the head of the security at the capitol. you probably remember it being said, "mr. speaker, the president of the united states" -- but, anyway, the important thing that you learn is it does not matter who is in the white house, it matters here is the usher. because he is the one that will give you in for a tour. the same thing is true, you know, you have to keep up with these friends. i would call bill and say i need a parking spot at the capital, can you get me in? so keep up with all those friends. [laughter] >> and we're back to parking. ladies and gentlemen, lynda robb, susan bales. [applause]
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >>, and a mixed lot on c-span, "washington journal," your calls in e-mails. later, supreme court justice anthony kennedy talks about preserving the u.s. constitution. coming up next, it is "washington journal" with james martin. he will talk about health care and older americans. that will be followed by a campaign to fix the national debt. a little bit later, we will talk ou